Thursday, December 19, 2013

we went to Utah!

So back in October, we went to Utah for a flyball tournament.  This was our first time in Utah at all, and the first time Chris has gone on a road trip with me to go to a tourney, so it was pretty awesome all the way around.  We traveled as part of a group that comprised people from four clubs in the Pacific Northwest, complete with shirts made for the occasion, and we had a great time.

Racing went really well, as we ran a modified A team lineup of Ezri (BC) / Danger (BS) / Sprite (BS) / Bogey (BW), which ran in the low 16's all weekend but sadly did not quite break 16 like we had hoped.  We did get some excellent times that we can use for seed times for UFLI Nationals next year if we want, so that goal was achieved.  We also won Division 1 on both days, despite being the slowest seeded club and racing against the world record holders Touch N Go, and that was pretty exciting!  Our friend Randy was there to judge the tournament, including the new record set by TNG's A team of 14.413, which was pretty amazing to see.

We took the opportunity to take some photos while we were there, of course!  Chris in his kilt and me in my racing skort, along with all three dogs.  The weather was incredible, we were there for the last warm weekend of the year and enjoyed 80F temperatures through our entire stay!

The parking lot behind the barn offered some good scenery, which I took advantage of to get some neat shots of the merles early on Saturday morning.  I loved the red rocks and the bluffs in southern Utah, they were beautiful - I hope to go back and spend time at Zion sometime in the future.

Here's Ezri all blinged out and ready to race - Swarovski crystals on her head, pink wraps on her front feet, and pink and glitter spray in her tail.  She was fantastic!  Martok was very intrigued by the process of putting crystals on Ezri's head, and when I was done with her he presented himself at my feet for the same treatment, so he got one little clear crystal on his forehead - and he was so proud!  He spent the next ten minutes prancing around like a peacock, clearly quite pleased with himself.

Jadzia is retired, of course, but a club there had two dogs get hurt on Saturday and so I offered to let her run with them on Sunday so they wouldn't have to pull.  She had a lot of fun, even as she has clearly embraced retirement and given up on any semblance of a boxturn.  I love my cranky old lady dog!

While we were in Utah, Martok hit his eight-month birthday, and Chris took him out to a different side of the parking lot to take photos for the occasion.  I love this one, he looks so grown up already!

We had a full caravan of five RV's on our trip home, as can be seen in this great shot I took while we were going through the Oregon mountain passes east of Pendleton.  Five trailer rigs made stops a little unwieldy, but we made it work and it was a lot of fun to travel with so many friends!

Sunrise early on the morning we left was glorious.  We were able to outrun the first fall storm that moved in that day, so yay for that!

And of course, it's just one week until Christmas, so here's a night shot of our Christmas tree.  It's so beautiful!  This year we used five strings of lights, two wrapping up the inside of the tree and three around the mid/outer branches, and it's very sparkly because of this.  I hope to spend some time this weekend taking dog/tree shots, so hopefully those will be up soon!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

two boys, two quilts, ten months apart...

Last night I was working on hand-sewing the binding on the quilt I'm finishing up for my nephew, and Martok decided to curl up against my hip and keep me company.  He soon decided that wasn't close enough, and moved his head to rest against the quilt itself.  There's a reason my quilt labels say "made with love and border collie fur" after all!

This reminded me of a similar photo I took back in February, when I was sewing the binding down on the quilt for my best friend's soon-to-be-born son.  Curzon kept me company while I worked on that one, and this is one of my favorite photos of him from the last months of his life.

He's asleep on the quilt I'm working on, just wanting to be close to me.  So many little details in that photo that are so dear to me now - the little white hairs around his mouth, the crimps in his tail feathers that you can just see hanging off the couch, his soft ears turned down at the tips.  Ah, I miss him so.

I still need to post about our trip to Utah, and probably some of our fun November events - two tournaments and a Thanksgiving weekend house party.  Tonight is the Child's Play Charity Gala, which is a grand time to be had by all in very fancy clothes, despite the bitter cold we currently have in the Seattle area.  It will be chilly, but lots of fun!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

he's not an iron man, he's a tough mudder

First off, today is Tuesday November 5th, so that means it's election day for the USA.  Please, go vote and take part in the democratic process!

October was a very busy month for us, as might be noted from the lack of posts here on the blog.  We had something going on nearly every weekend, including three flyball tournaments straight!  Today I'm posting about the first weekend in October, when Chris ran the Tough Mudder event for the first time. 

After we did the Zombie 5K run in August, Chris decided he wanted to keep doing stuff like that, and he picked up on the Tough Mudder course as his next goal.  With just six weeks to get ready, he didn't get anyone else who was willing to go with him, so off we went on a surprisingly sunny Sunday for him to do the event by himself.  The Tough Mudder is put on by the Army to support the Wounded Warrior project, and involves about 10 miles of running with some insane obstacles along the way, including electric shocks and dunking into a shipping container full of ice water.  I went along the spectator paths and watched as much as I could, and got several neat photos.

He was in the second to last wave to start running on Sunday, shown here as I dropped him off to begin his journey.

The first few obstacles were further away from the spectator path so I didn't get to see them, and in fact missed him due to leaving early on one of them, but I caught up to him when he got to the next batch of obstacles.  There were several hillsides that the runners had to climb up and down, covered in mud of course!

Monkey bars over a pit of muddy water - that's him on the far side of the structure.  He did all of them without dropping into the water - so proud, I know I couldn't do that!

Another crazy obstacle, where he had to go on his back in a pit of water under fencing and pull his way through while keeping his head up to breathe.  Yuck!

All done, complete with his well-earned orange headband for finishing.  Chris has already decided he's doing it again next year, and is working to get a team of people together to go with him as well.  I think they're all crazy, but I'll go spectate again...but this time I'm wearing muck boots, as my sneakers were ruined even as just a spectator!

Of course, this past week was Halloween, and what would that awesome holiday be without a group photo of the dogs?  No costumes for them this year, but I think the setting is festive just the same.  We got quite a few trick or treaters on Halloween, and used that as a chance to do some training with Martok and he did very well.  What a good boy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

ten years ago today...

...a litter of three black and white border collie puppies was born.  At the time I had just started looking for a puppy to surprise Chris with, since Jadzia had turned out so bonded to me even though she was supposed to be his dog.  Little did I know what I was about to find, and the amazing treasure I would decide to bring home.

This is the first picture of Curzon that I have, taken when he was two weeks old.  It's an actual physical print and is one of two that the breeder sent me when I inquired about the puppies when they were about five weeks old.  His eyes aren't even open yet in this photo, we didn't know he existed or that he would be ours when it was taken, and all I can see when I look at this picture is the promise within those fat little puppy legs.  Curzon more than lived up to that promise, and he set a high bar that all dogs we have in the future will have to work hard to meet.

Last weekend was the Auburn tournament, the one where he debuted at 1 year 2 days of age in 2004, and the one where he should have earned his Iron Dog title and award this year.  Several other dogs who debuted with him nine years ago got their titles on Saturday and Sunday, with one more planned for next month.  My friends put the memory pin on their black lab as he ran his retirement and Iron Dog races, so that Curzon got to share that run in some small way, and that was incredibly lovely of them.

Today is Curzon's birthday.  Happy birthday, my beautiful boyo, and I hope you know that I still love you and miss you and I hope that you are happy and free from pain, wherever you are.

Monday, October 7, 2013

another flyball milestone

The last weekend in September was another flyball tournament for us, this time one in a new location hosted by a club that hasn't hosted before.  The weather was kind of rotten (high winds and heavy rain...ick), but the venue was suitable and had good RV parking, so we were happy enough.  Our A team won Division 1 on both days, and Ezri earned her Flyball Grand Champion 40k on Saturday - that's forty thousand points earned over four years and two months, and 40% of the way to my goal for her which is HOBBES, the hundred-thousand-point title.  One of my flyball friends took some great photos this weekend, which I was happy to see that he's putting up for sale now online - photography isn't cheap, after all!

I love, love, LOVE this photo of Ezri leaping off the box - she looks so strong and fast, and of course she's chomping that tennis ball flat into submission.  This is the essence of flyball, to me - athletic dogs having a ball playing the sport that they love.

As usual, there was a wait here and there for technical problems or conflicts between the rings (one club racing in one ring and on deck in the other is the usual issue), and he got a great picture of us hanging out and waiting.  Even when lying down, Ezri is not particularly relaxed when she's in the ring...she just waits...

Martok did great in both Friday and Saturday night green dog work opportunities, although we just had him do flat recalls with distractions due to his healing shoulder.  His focus is amazing and I'm super proud of him...and of course he's a giant dork as this photo shows.

I love this photo of Martok tugging, with his ears flattened out, his legs braced to pull, his tail curled up happily, and those teeth going GRRR at me.  Such a great puppy!

I'm very happy that Martok's shoulder is all healed up now, whatever was causing him to limp has gone away and he's doing just fine.  Thank goodness it was just a strain or growing pains!  I played chuckit with them in the yard on Friday, plus he did over-back jump practice on Thursday and Sunday, and he's doing really well.  We'll be starting him on wall work in November, and if his progress continues as it is now, he'll be debuting in March.  Attaboy!

Next post will be all about the Tough Mudder run that Chris ran yesterday...he succeeded and I'm so proud of him!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

should have are the saddest words in this language

No cute pictures today, unfortunately, as today's post is a short one about Curzon.  It's now October, and it's been five months since we had to send him off into the long night to release him from the pain of the cancer that riddled his body.  I knew October was going to be very hard for me, and that is indeed turning out to be true.

He should have been here to earn his 50,000 point title.
He should have been here to turn 10 years old and race in a flyball tourney on his birthday (October 20).
He should have been here to earn his Iron Dog award at that same tourney.

And mostly, Curzon should have been here to watch his baby brother grow up.  I'm not sure how, but Martok is showing so many behaviors that his big brother displayed, things that he couldn't have seen in their short eleven days together.  Martok has been rearing up to go outside, and bounds and leaps and curvettes like Curzon did.  He's been waiting outside my bedroom door for me in the mornings, just like Curzon did.  He initiated a game of hide-and-seek around the living room / kitchen wall last night with Chris, just like Curzon did.  Most days it's a comfort, but some days it's just a painful reminder.

Curzon should have been here to see all of this.

But he's not.

And that still breaks my heart, and it may always do so.  I miss you, my darlin' boyo.  So much.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

cross-stitch and a growing puppy

So thanks to my friend, I've decided to pick up cross-stitch again, at least for a Halloween-themed project.  This isn't my first one, as I completed a pretty good-sized one in the early 2000s and have a smaller one that I did about half of a few years back, but it will be my first one on linen and first time using hand-dyed fabric and floss, so that's kind of neat.  We started on Saturday, and I've spent a lot of time working on it since then, even though I had to buy a pair of reading glasses to see the fabric better and have to have a nice bright light to see by.  So far I've completed the pattern grid (it's a Halloween sampler, with one letter per grid space) and about a quarter of the lace border (with bats, skulls, and spiders).  I love it so far!

When I'm working on it in the evenings, Martok usually ends up curled up near me to snooze, and last night I let him climb up and curl into my lap while I worked.  He did very well, sleeping quietly and not interrupting my stitching - pretty impressive for an (almost) seven-month-old border collie puppy.  There was even a stretch of time where my pattern sheet was resting on his head, and he didn't notice or care.

Chris got me an adorable little "My Little Demon" plushy dragonesque stuffed toy from a Kickstarter campaign, complete with "Danger" wrapping and a personalized Demonator certificate.  Of course, I had to use the Danger wrapping appropriately on my young border collie puppy - they SHOULD come with "Danger" warnings after all!

Last weekend was pretty quiet and calm, so much so that I ended up buying a new shelf to organize all of my fiber craft stuff.  I went to Storables and found this shelf, which perfectly fits six of the Sistema bins I use for yarn/fiber storage per shelf, and I bought it immediately upon realizing this.  It does add some clutter to my room, but it's providing a lot of useful storage and has allowed me to collect all of the fiber things together (instead of strewn about the place), so that's a worthwhile tradoff.  Plus it just makes my organizational heart happy.

One of the things we did do this weekend was pick up our RV trailer after it's long stint at the dealer, where it had various small repairs performed and also had slide rollers installed.  These are like little awnings for the slides, which protect them from weather and minimize any dirt/debris/water from being pulled back into the RV when you close up for travel.  Plus they dampen the sound of rain on the slides, since the rain will hit the awning and not the slide roof itself, a big bonus in this climate!  I'm super excited and can't wait to use it again for a tournament this weekend.

There are a few things that I am keeping in mind these days, of course, with the primary at the moment being Martok's shoulder.  He's demonstrated a bit of limping twice in the past few days, and since this is the age when OCD (osteochontridis dissecans) will present plus his sire has thrown pups who have had it, I'm now a little worried that we could be seeing that with him.  OCD is basically a cartilage disorder where a piece flaps or breaks off within the joint, causing inflammation and pain and later joint damage if it's not resolved.  Martok is exhibiting no pain, full extension and flexion of both shoulders (both manual by me and spontaneously by him while playing), and the stiffness seems to pop up after a nap after exercise, which is different than typical OCD presentation.  So it might be growing pains, as it does seem he's doing nothing but growing legs right now, and that's what we'll hope for, but I'm still waiting to hear from the vet about whether we should bring him in for an exam and radiographs.

My other nearly-constant thought companion is of course our lost Curzon.  Time is helping heal that wound, but it's still definitely a wound and it's not healed over by any means, nor do I think it will be any time soon.  It's hard to make plans for the tournament next month, which would've been his tenth birthday, his ninth anniversary of racing flyball, and his Iron Dog award, all in one weekend.  I'm not looking for him quite as often as I used to, but I still miss him so much, especially as little Martok in all innocence displays so many of the silly border collie boy behaviors that Curzon exhibited.  Ah, well - if I hadn't loved him so, if he hadn't changed our lives so deeply, then it wouldn't hurt to have lost him - and that is something I couldn't bear.